Skepta, a British-Nigerian rapper whose real name is Joseph Junior Adenuga, once enjoyed success in the British grime rap scene, but has now ventured into the world of art. Skepta is a multi-talented artist that not only pioneered the grime rap subgenre, but he also received a Mercury Prize for his 2016 album Konnichiwa, started the Mains clothing line, and was appointed chief in his native Nigerian state of Ogun in 2018.
The 39-year-old recently took the position of guest co-curator for Sotheby’s “Contemporary Curated” sale, letting his artistic abilities shine through a painting titled Mama Goes to Market, which he described as a bringing together of memories and recollections of Nigeria.
Skepta created this painting as his first work of art in 2020 and let the famed auction house Sotheby’s, which specializes in “art and luxury” items, put it in a lot for the latter’s “Contemporary Curated” auction series.
The description in the Catalogue note reads: “The present work was originally painted in 2020, by the British rapper, songwriter and record producer Skepta. He then took the painting to the graphic artist Chito’s collaboration with Givenchy, where people could bring any item to be transformed with Chito’s signature tag. Seen on the walls of Skepta’s painting alongside tags by the graphic artist Slawn and the producer and DJ Goldie, Mama goes to market becomes a focal point for artistic collaboration.”
Many creatives used the downtime that the pandemic caused in 2020 to explore different artistic pursuits, and this is one example of that.
In a press release, Skepta shared that his mother used to carry him the way that the woman in the painting is carrying her child. In this way and many others, this painting imitates real life and memories for the artist. Skepta also shared that the characters in the painting are dressed in what he calls “Nigerian Couture,” saying that he designed these outfits.
It seems that the shift from music to painting came naturally to the rapper. The world of music, especially when an artist is involved in the making of music videos and styling and set design, organically yields itself to a creative process that’s more or less all consuming.
Skepta is not the first rapper to dabble in fine art. In fact, most recently, the rapper Andre 3000 worked with the photographer Deana Lawson and creative director Tremaine Emory for a Supreme launch.
Skepta’s painting was estimated to sell between £40,000-£60,000 GBP (~$46,000-$69,00 USD) with bidding concluding on September 13.
Photo via Sotheby’s